This talk was made in about 1997 and in it, Father Petar talks about the importance of prayer and obstacles to having our prayers heard by God.
Prayer is our happy encounter with God, who always has time for us and is waiting for us. Prayer is a pleasant conversation between man and God. Every person wants to meet God, to join Him, and in Him find peace, happiness and joy of living. For this, prayer is a happy reunion between man and God in the light of faith, hope and love. Prayer was and remains an expression of the manifestation of the deepest needs of the soul, which by its very nature seeks the Creator, God to be able to bow, to show Him respect, devotion and love, to thank Him for the good He gives us and for reparation for sins.
To pray means to be aware of our own limitations and weaknesses, insecurity and uncertainty. So we ask the Almighty Father for help. We ask God for the strength to enlighten, purify, strengthen, and encourage us in our daily lives. In prayer, we take a break from everything and find time to be face to face with God. With Him we speak to the Father who loves us, comforts us, and makes us happy. This is that beautiful union with God in love and trust. To pray means to be conscious and believe that with God you can talk, join Him and be in the union of His love. Can there be anything more beautiful, and more useful, more appropriate, more healthy, more human, than a person kneeling, hands together in prayer pledging to the Father their allegiance and loyalty, love and gratitude for graces received? We need to strive to feel great joy and happiness in prayer!
A believer knows that without prayer, his soul can not live. Therefore it is not necessary to speak of the need of prayer. It begs the question: how is one to pray today? We must pray with the heart. This we have learned from the Virgin of Medjugorje after more than six thousand five hundred days (this presentation was given in approximately 1997). But what does this mean? Praying with the heart means first of all to pray with love and humility. It means praying with our whole being: body and soul, with a pure heart. It means to open up completely to God. To give Him the first place in our lives. To give oneself completely to Him and to have faith in Him. This means humbly praying with dedication and trust, constantly and devotedly. According to the teachings and messages of Our Lady, prayer with the heart means to experience prayer as an encounter with God. We join with Jesus in order to feel and experience the beauty and greatness of the grace that God gives us. This also means to receive great graces. Praying with the heart means to allow God to remove every impediment.
Some of the Virgin of Medjugorje messages show this idea with the utmost clarity: “Dear children! I invite you to sincere prayer with the heart so that your prayer is an encounter with the Lord. Give the Lord first place in work and everyday life!” (Dec. 25, 1987). “Dear children! Today I invite you to prayer of the heart. Throughout this season of grace I wish each of you to be united with Jesus, but without unceasing prayer you cannot experience the beauty and greatness of the grace which God is offering you. Therefore, little children, at all times fill your heart with even the smallest prayers. I am with you and unceasingly keep watch over every heart which is given to me. Thank you for having responded to my call. (Feb. 25, 1987).” “Dear children! I call you again to prayer with the heart. Let prayer, dear children, be your every day food in a special way when your work in the fields is so wearing you out that you cannot pray with the heart. Pray, and then you shall overcome even every weariness. Prayer will be your joy and your rest. Thank you for having responded to my call. (May 30, 1985).” “Dear children! Today I call you to prayer with the heart, and not just from habit. Some are coming but do not wish to move ahead in prayer. Therefore, I wish to warn you like a Mother: pray that prayer prevails in your hearts in every moment. Thank you for having responded to my call (May 2, 1985). ” Dear children! This parish, which I have chosen, is a special parish, which is distinguished from the others. I give great thanks to all those who pray with the heart (Feb. 6, 1986).” “Dear children! Today again I am calling you to pray with your whole heart and day by day to change your life (Nov. 13, 1986).” “Dear children! … Turn your hearts to prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon you (Sept. 5, 1986).” “Dear Children! Today I invite you to pray for peace. At this time peace is being threatened in a special way, and I am seeking from you to renew fasting and prayer in your families. Dear children, I desire you to grasp the seriousness of the situation and that much of what will happen depends on your prayers…(July 25, 1991).”
God hears every prayer. On some occasions you may hear someone say, “I asked God for something and He has heard my prayer.” Yet, sometimes you will hear people say, “I prayed for the health of my loved one and instead of getting better, they are worse or I prayed to pass an exam and instead, I failed. So has God has heard my prayer even though I did not receive the desired outcome? Complaints of this kind are common. What can we say about this? Many think that God is always at our service as if it were an emergency room, and every time we ask for something we expect to be immediately fulfilled. We say a Hail Mary, Our Father, or we attend a Mass and in return God should immediately give back a favorable answer to prayer. As if it was an exchange of goods. Have you ever wondered, why God has not answered our prayer? Maybe we remember God only when we need something, when we are sick, or when we need some help beyond what we can get. When things are going good, we may forget God and forget to pray. Have you ever wondered: “Is what I am praying for really for my own good, for the good of my soul?” Maybe our prayer intention is not good for us because it would lead to our condemnation and God knows this. Perhaps we made our prayer intention in a state of mortal sin, were lacking in humility or showed arrogance? Maybe God did not give us what we asked for, but gave us something else. How many people pray for health, but God does not give healing, yet He gives strength to endure the pain. Maybe God does not answer our prayers because we expect God to do our will and not His. When we pray to God for any need, then our prayer must be humble so that at the end of every prayer you say “may Your Will be done and not mine.” Then if our prayers were not answered, He knows why and ultimately it is for our spiritual salvation.
What are the conditions for God to answer our prayers? To understand this, it is clear that God is always ready to hear our prayer. Even before you ask, He knows what we need. The Scripture confirms this: “Call Me and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jer. 33:3) says the Lord. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find; knock, and it shall be opened.” (Mt 7:7) But you must remember that God is omnipotent and omniscient. He knows everything and can do everything. His power is beyond our ability to imagine as St. Paul told us: “Now to Him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine by the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21). In order for prayers to be answered, it is necessary to fulfill the specific conditions. First of all you must have a strong faith. “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to here,; and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17: 20)” We must believe that God can fulfill all we ask. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).” Also it is necessary to pray with a pure heart. This is a very important condition. When we sin, we have broken the link with God and our prayers have no merit before God. For God to hear our prayers, it is necessary to remove the obstacles. It is absolutely necessary to completely repent of our sins and confess them. And then, God willingly forgives us and gives us new grace that we lost by sinning. We need to live in communion with God which is manifested in the search and fulfillment of God’s will. God’s will is to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and to accomplish within us the work of salvation. Jesus says: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you (John 15:7).” Jesus prayed in Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet, not as I will, but as Thou wilt (Mt 26:39.”
Trust God and pray that His will be done either in us or for those for whom we pray, is the best condition for God to hear our prayer. We must be thankful to God for everything, and then He hears our prayers. Lord, I thank you for the grace you have given me, to pray for what I need. You know, what’s best for me and for eternal salvation. “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”
We need to have patience. When we ask God for something, we want God to help immediately. We always forget that we can not know what, at any given time, is best for us. For this you need to be patient and let God decide when it is the right time. We basically are very limited in what concerns the future. So it is best to leave it to God. All we ask, we ask in the name of Christ. “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it: ‘(John 14:13). Also in the prayer we thank God, glorify Him, ask for justice, love, peace, and more specifically that His kingdom will come. In other words, may the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. Then God will give all we ask. God, in fact, can not refuse our request because we have fulfilled all the conditions required. The Madonna tells us that God will fulfill each of our prayers if we pray with love and heart.
I have one example of Branimir, a man who is a firm believer. When he talked with people, he always called attention to the more important things in life. Once he was traveling, staying in a hotel. When a young woman who served him asked if he had time each day for prayer. “You know, there is so much to do that I barely have time to eat, then how can I find time for prayer?” The woman replied, “If you allow me, I will teach you a prayer that has just a few words: Jesus, save me! This prayer is found in Scripture, Matthew 14:30. When you say this prayer, say it from the heart, praying once in the morning and once in the evening.” He promised to pray. A few months later, he again stayed at the same hotel and visited the woman. “Oh, man,” he exclaimed, recognizing the girl, “you know what what happened with your prayer?! I repeated it every morning and evening as I had promised for two weeks. Then I asked myself: what does the prayer mean? You told me that this prayer is found in Sacred Scripture, and so I got a Bible. Reading scripture, I learned two things: first that I am truly in need of salvation, and that Jesus is my salvation. Now I do not have to repeat that prayer as you taught because every day and every time I say, “Lord, thank you because you have heard me!”
Drawing from this example, I ask, “Do we have time to pray and read the Word of God?” Perhaps we do not feel the need because we do not feel that we are sinners. We need to pray to God every day so He will reveal our weaknesses. He will surely do this. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks receives; that seeks finds; to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8). This example also confirms that God hears our every prayer we pray with love and heart.
The next thing that I would advise is to confess every month! Confession is the sacrament in which God forgives us all our sins for which we repent, and decide, with His help, to sin no more. Confessing sins can be like a spiritual resurrection. It is a joyous meeting of the small sinful man with the big, merciful Jesus Christ, present in His Church. The Christian approaches the confession because he regrets his behavior and desires. With grace, forgiveness and absolution, he may regain the friendship of God. In the sacrament of penance, the Christian is reborn in a sense and reacquires the baptismal holiness that was more or less destroyed by sin. Christians are saved due to this sacrament. Failure to utilize this sacrament has terrible consequences. Confession is a great gift, a precious gift of the Risen Lord to His disciples. God always calls us, and when we decide to go back to him and repent of our sins, he willingly forgives us and guides us. “We are all sinners and we are all wounded by sin. The wounds need care and medicine, the patient must heal. This is confession, it is the medicine and convalescence that heals our wounded heart. The Lord God is the doctor and healer and the broker is the priest, the confessor.” (quote from Father Jakov Bubalo)
Our Savior has stated that confession of sins is required for forgiveness. Repentance is the basic condition of confession. But what is repentance? Crying out? Shedding tears? Sighing? No, all this does not count. The essence of the confession is primarily the belief that sin separates us from God, makes us lose a life of grace, takes us away from the path of salvation and offends divine goodness. This admission should lead to regret in the heart, a repentance in the true sense of the word; There is perfect repentance and imperfect repentance. What is the difference? Repentance is perfect when we are sorry for having violated the infinite goodness of the Father and betrayed the love with which we have been loved. This allows an immediate repentance for forgiveness of sin and for this reason is called perfect. Imperfect repentance arises from the fear of punishment from God or the devil where we are scared into changing rather than changing because of love. True repentance is unthinkable without the will and firm resolve to turn from sin. The decision to stop committing sin is the essence of repentance.
Abstention from sin in the will, intention and decision, must be radical. Some do not understand it and say that this act can not be made because they are sure to commit sin again. They know because they have promised many times, but they sinned again. We understand! You fear the promise to sin no more but try to take courage in the promise to fight against sin, and try to flee the occasions that lead regularly to sin. Through monthly confession, you will notice that you will become stronger to resist the occasion to sin. The priest should see it: this will be enough for a valid confession and then God will give us the strength to fight. Some say: I do not confess because I do not want to deceive. I promised so many times and have fallen into sin. This way of thinking is completely wrong. Those who repent sincerely, do not deceive. Falls are the mirror of our weakness and of our fragile nature. The confession thus serves to strengthen our spirit and deludes only those who do not truly repent. Those who do confess their sins, always deserve forgiveness. Be convinced!
Some people confess profanely and how is this so? They who deliberately conceal a sin or not tell the priest their mortal sins in order to receive absolution, confess sacrilegiously. In this case, it is better not to go to confession, rather than doing it this way. Just remember that nothing can be concealed in God because He knows all our sins, better than we know them ourselves.
In closing this talk I offer an examination of conscience. The examination of conscience we can follow is like this: Am I at peace with everyone …? Do I fight with someone I live with? …Do I forgive others as God forgives me …? Who is God for me …? Do I believe strongly in God …? Do I doubt Him?, discredit Him? Do I practice idolatry? Do I read or practice occultism, magic? Do I swear or take the name of God in vain? … Do I love God more than everything and my neighbor as myself ..? Do I do unnecessary work on Sunday and Holy Days of obligation? Do I attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of obligation? Do I pray every day? Do I confess at least twice a year …? Do I fast …? Do I respect parents and elders …? Have I have beaten or killed someone …? Have I spoke ill of anyone?. . . Have I have stolen or have I lied, Have I given false testimony … ? Have I deceived someone? Have I persuaded someone to sin …? Have I become drunk, smoked drugs, used drugs or hurt my health? Have I committed adultery? Have I talked about sexual matters which led to impurity …? Have I looked at pornography, or had impure thoughts and desires…? Have I masturbated? Have I had an abortion …? Have I read pornographic books or watched porn movies…? Am I arrogant, jealous, stingy?…Am I irresponsible at work?…Do I get angry easily? Do I find fault with others? Do I take care of my spouse and children and myself? Do I support my Church?
I hope this transcribed talk has enlightened you and may God bless you abundantly!